Practice Notes

Integrating yoga into your daily life is wonderful. Here are some ideas that might enhance your experience in yoga classes.

Don’t Rush
If at all possible, be early to class. Settle in and sit quietly. If your late, your late, own it. Drive safely and try to breath deeply and slowly rather than racing through traffic. It’s more yogic and you will feel more relaxed and in a mind set to actually practice. If you arrive late, enter the practice space softly and quietly. Everyone is busy and we’re happy that you’ve made the effort. And really, if you’re that late (more than 15 minutes or so), skip class! Go for a walk in the woods, get some tea and read, or maybe go to Zumba instead.

When and where to Practice
This is personal and a function of your life and value system. We are encouraged by the classic yoga texts to wake before dawn, take a cold bath and begin our practice. But let’s be realistic – that’s not going to happen for most people! The best time to practice is whenever you can fit it into your life. Find classes that you have a reasonable chance of attending regularly. Find a studio that is convenient to your life pattern. And most importantly, find an instructor that reflects qualities that you respect and can relate to.

What to wear, and avoiding wardrobe malfunctions
Clothing that will not restrict your movement or fall off if you are in downward dog is best. You don’t need the latest, high tech, designer yoga pants to practice. Only Lululemon wants you to think you do. Some studios set the thermostat at over-the-top convection oven level. Other rooms may be on the cool side. If you generally run cooler, layers work well and can be adjusted as your body temperature shifts. Shorts and a tee shirt are fine. Baggy clothing is generally not recommended. For safety and stability in standing postures, I encourage bare feet on a sticky mat. As a rule, if you’re adjusting your outfit between every posture, it may not be the ideal choice.

Unplug
Turn off (or leave in your car) the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry…whatever. Reality check, you can go without email and facebook for longer then you think and the world will not come crashing down.  If you are texting or emailing right up until the moment the class starts, it will take you longer to reset your nervous system. Also, it goes without saying that phones ringing during practice are a disruption and should be avoided, except in emergency situations.

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Eating and drinking
Virtually all yoga texts recommend that we practice on an empty stomach. Try to allow at least a couple of hours after a meal. If you have to eat before practice, try a piece of fruit or a cup of tea. I find that a small amount of black coffee about 1/2 hour before practice sharpens my attention without becoming unsteady. This is a personal preference, and your milage may vary, but if you are a coffee fan, it might work for you, too. Try to take in enough water before practice.. Drinking during practice is not recommended; even water stimulates the digestive tract and can interfere with comfortable practice. One other thing, lose the gum before going to yoga class. Seriously, we don’t want you choking.

Yoga mats
Yoga mats are a relatively recent invention. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika suggests practicing on a tiger skin. As yoga has spread beyond the tiger’s natural habitat, we have given up that practice in favor of modern “sticky mats.”  A quality mat will have a reasonable amount of density to cushion knees, elbows, and other various bones.If you are just beginning your yoga practice, purchase a basic 10-dollar mat until you decide that you are in this for the long run. If you have committed to practice, it becomes worthwhile to invest in a more durable, denser, and pricier yoga mat. A professional-quality mat will last through years of daily practice without needing replacement.